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Santa Claus' Punch and Judy (1948)

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Santa magically creates a Punch and Judy puppet show to the delight of children at a Christmas party.

WARNING! Parents may wish to watch this before exposing innocent eyes to the comic brutality of a Punch and Judy puppet show from the late 1940s - including some very non-PC scenes.

Punch & Judy professor/historian Geoff Felix describes the film:
The value of this film is that it is a record of a performance by George Prentice whose Punch and Judy show achieved great popularity in Variety during the 1930's. The action is slick, fast and furious and incorporates several animal characters made by the performer.
This slapstick style is not everyone's cup of tea and the children appear to have been filmed at a different time, but the delicacy of manipulation, combined with its speed, make this a must for connoisseurs of Punch and Judy.
Several Punch men have rated this show the best to have come from the States.
I believe he (Prentice) had help from the Larsons (also called Pinxy) but that he made the puppets himself. He appeared at the Palladium in London and also in Paris as well as having given a performance for the then Prince of Wales.


Geoff Felix's web site- http://www.mbertrand.freeserve.co.uk/


To license this film and get a higher quality version for broadcast/film purposes, contact A/V Geeks LLC.




This movie is part of the collection: A/V Geeks

Production Company: Castle Films / United World Films, Inc
Audio/Visual: sound, b&w
Keywords: Santa; puppet chaos; senseless violence

Creative Commons license: Public Domain


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Reviews
Average Rating: 4.18 out of 5 stars4.18 out of 5 stars4.18 out of 5 stars4.18 out of 5 stars

Reviewer: Mortimer Snerd - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - December 10, 2011
Subject: Ditto whay "Moosey" said.
Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said. Ditto whay "Moosey" said.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reviewer: nigeldavahah - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - November 11, 2010
Subject: LMAO
Hahahahaha

Reviewer: Furrows - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - November 11, 2010
Subject: Now I get it - great Punch & Judy show
That may be the funniest effin thing I've ever seen in my life. I always thought Punch and Judy was pretty lame but I guess I never saw a real one before - this is a masterpiece.
Also, the kids are probably such lousy actors because they did not grow up with TV.

Reviewer: doowopbob - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - May 16, 2010
Subject: ....Oh Man..
....Show This To Your Kids December 1st. And Instead Of Milk & Cookies By The Tree For Santa, They'll Be Waiting On Him With Baseball Bats..! Parents Will Save Lots Of Moolah.On Presents..!..Merry Christmas Ya Fat Pervert..BAM...BOOM..SPLOOSH..SPLAT!

Reviewer: evansT - 2.00 out of 5 stars2.00 out of 5 stars - October 26, 2009
Subject: WTF?
I have no idea what I've just watched in that film. Santa Claus is giving gifts to some children at a party and magics up a 'classical' Punch and Judy show, featuring five minuets of animal abuse and fighting racial stereotypes.

A surreal film that you should only watch so that you can say in all honesty that you've watched it.

Reviewer: Billy Sugarfix - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - August 31, 2008
Subject: Pulls both ways
Wow. That was completely offensive. Did anyone else notice the soft chanting of the word "jigaboo" before the "minstrel" scene? The puppetry was brilliant though. I guess it just goes to show that artistic greatness and alleged social consciousness don't always go together

Reviewer: Moosey - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - January 4, 2007
Subject: Punch-Violence and Political Correctness
I think that political correctness and its close cousin historical revisionism have done much to destroy our understanding of the world before and around us. It is true that Punch and Judy demonstrate violence. It is also true that modern children and politically correct adults might be offended by their antics. But to erase the origins of this show would be a disaster. To understand Punch is to understand the times for which he was created. People who have lived through violent times, frequently find relief through exagerations of abuses and violence. After laughing through these dramas, viewers are relieved to know that nothing has touched them and that they are still survivors. Modern day people go to horror movies for the same reasons. After the "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" is over, they return to their homes knowing that the vicisitudes of this world aren't usually as bad. Not everybody rushes out and buys a power saw to do likewise. The movie "The Producers" is Mel Brooks attempt at dealing with the horrors of the Nazi holacaust. He is not advocating that Hitler was cute or funny. He is attempting to defang a monster in order to alleviate a nightmare beyond comprehension.

Should children today go to a traditional Punch show? If they were taught to understand its real meaning, I would say perhaps. Political correctness is like an ostrich burying its head in the sand. It can pretend something does not exist but sooner or later reality will find it. Children who grow up thinking the world is always a beautiful place are in for a big surprise when they finally leave the nest!

The following quotes are borrowed from a Punch site in the U.K. I feel they help to emphasize my point.

The Slapstick is a traditional clown's weapon of long and honourable pedigree. Here's how it is described in the Oxford English Dictionary: "Slap-stick: the flexible lath used by the harlequin in a pantomime etc. for making a great noise with the pretence of dealing a heavy blow. Figuratively it is applied to boisterous or knockabout comedy" Yes, the weapon of choice of Mr. Punch is the very object which gave its name to the whole genre of slapstick comedy. Those outraged citizens who wish to consider it an offensive weapon, the very use of which is an incitement to real-life violence, are invited by the College to class custard pies, buckets of water and banana skins in the same category. They are further invited to impose a ban on clowns' cars on the grounds that they encourage dangerous driving.

The use of the slapstick (which Mr. Punch took up when he became a glove puppet) is in common with the batons, frying pans and similar comic weapons used by his counterparts in other cultures. They form part of the rythmic, percussive soundtrack that underscores a good live performance of Punch and Judy in much the same way that Tom and Jerry style cartoon animation is punctuated by thumps, boings, whistles and crashes.

When someone wrote to Charles Dickens seeking to enlist his help in 'banning' Punch as a work of Satan, they didn't know that the eminent author was a fan of the puppet show. Dickens reponse is still quoted by performers today. He wrote "In my opinion the Street Punch is one of those extravagant reliefs from the realities of life which would lose its hold upon the people if it were made moral and instructive. I regard it as quite harmless and as an outrageous joke which no one in existence would think of regarding as an incentive to any kind of action or as a model for any kind of conduct. It is possible, I think, that one secret source of pleasure very generally derived from this performance is the satisfaction the spectator feels in the circumstances that likenesses of men and women can be so knocked about without any pain or suffering". (The Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol V, 1847 - 1849. Ed. G. Storey and K.J.Fielding. Clarendon Press 1981. The letter was written on Nov. 6th.)
.

Reviewer: ARossi - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - November 20, 2006
Subject: wow!
I had no idea puppets smacking the heck out of each other with a stick would be so funny!

If you'd like to see other Archive gems, check out the blog at http://internetarchive.wordpress.com/ .

Reviewer: Spuzz - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - January 21, 2006
Subject: Ka-POW! SOCK!!
Highly amusing film here with a kow-socky Punch and Judy show that features as much violence as a Kill Bill film, After Santa greets a bunch of AWFUL acting kids, (great line delivery there kids), one kid wishes for a Punch and Judy Show, and he gets it! The Punch and Judy show here is GREAT! Lots of carefully coordinated violence here.. (watch how the stick is traded off from one puppet to another!). All sorts of things here to entertain (and apparently offend) the children! Some of the children were strangely rocking back and forth.. Guess their brain damage has started..

Reviewer: JR Selleck - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - December 8, 2005
Subject: I had no idea
This puppet show is hilarious. The first time you watch it, you wonder what the hell is going on. By the second time, you're laughing your ass off. I had no idea that Punch and Judy shows have been around for hundreds of years, and if you think this is bad, you should hear what the old storylines used to be!

Reviewer: Crackerboxer - 1.00 out of 5 stars - September 21, 2005
Subject: This was stupid
And we are all now stupider for having watched it. Basically, this is a guy banging two puppets together. The plot goes like this: Punch tries to hit a person or animal with a stick, the person or animal grabs the stick away and beats Punch with it, Punch regains his weapon and finds a new adversary. You can see the puppeteer passing the stick off between his hands. And the voices are grating. It's absolutely terrible, but I guess this is what you had to endure for your violent kiddy entertainment before there was Looney Tunes. The only good parts are the reactions of the kids, stunned, and Santa, who may be enjoying it so much because he's picturing Ms. Claus in the Judy role.

Reviewer: dog from Nightwatch - 2.00 out of 5 stars2.00 out of 5 stars - August 19, 2005
Subject: Rough stuff for kids.
Frankly I could never find much to be amused about "Punch & Judy" shows when I was a child, this short subject reminds me of why I hated them as a child.

Hay, it's a good "print" but the sound is rough...as for the content well....I't's not my cup of tea.

Recomended as a cultural artifact only, not as "art".

Reviewer: misselina - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - August 13, 2005
Subject: I shouldn't be laughing at this...
...but despite the fact that it is horrendously racist and violent, the puppetry is so quick and the humor so perfectly timed that I want to watch it again.

Reviewer: video-performance-film-artist - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - May 5, 2005
Subject: Disturbing and odd!
This film is a must see. The slapstick violence oscillates between hilarious and outright horrific. The children also seem to be often horrified, and speak like zombies in monotone. Thank you Santa. A warning, it is highly offensive in its racist SAMBO like dolls, and its domestic violence. The odd thing is when Punch hits Judy after she wont kiss him, a young girl in the audience, nds, as if through life experience she knows the role of the woman in the mans domain. It is frightening, and a must see. I can't wait to get my hands on it in my work.

Reviewer: ridetheory - 3.00 out of 5 stars3.00 out of 5 stars3.00 out of 5 stars - January 4, 2005
Subject: Great Puppetteering, but...
Man, whoever was the puppeteer did a great job -- whenever Punch tries to take a swing with his slapstick, the other puppet grabs it away and starts whaling on him. All of this happens at a breakneck and hilarious pace. This is probably the best puppet violence film ever, and I'd include Team America and Meet the Feebles in that statement.

BUT...

Boy Howdy, the boxing puppets were pretty extreme racist characters.

Reviewer: ScotisRule - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - December 14, 2004
Subject: Larry Fein Lookalike Santa Harasses Children Comedy Insues
This little film begins with Santa doing his traditional sit-on-my-lap-and-I'll-give-you-what-you-ask-for routine. One girl asks for a crying doll and Santa, like the Greek God Zeus, pulls her dolly out of his own body (in this case, his back) to give to her. After a few of these children finish asking Santa for gifts, one boy spouts out a ridiculous list of demands ending with a request for a Punch and Judy show. The little boy asking for the Punch and Judy show asks in such a way as to imply that it was merely a formality in order to keep Santa happy. Santa sits in the crowd of children, and like a drunken abusive uncle guffaws as Punch attempts to beat Judy, then a cat, then a monkey. Did I mention that Punch is a fabulous role model for young children of the 1950's? He demonstrates domestic abuse, cruelty to animals, and unsuccessfully spanks his monkey.

During a brief intermission a couple of Al Jolson-inspired African-American stereotype puppets pop out and sing while the young white children pretend to find it funny... or suffer the consequences of the drunken Larry Fine-lookalike Santa. The Punch and Judy show returns to the mini stage and the violence continues.

Reviewer: PreliViewerKid86 - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - December 12, 2004
Subject: Silly Warning...
Punch and Judy are in a word, Hilarious. Kids should watch Punch and Judy, they'd learn a thing or two.
But seriously, this has to be the most senseless violence I've ever seen...it's quite absurdly funny.
--Taylor


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